Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Because I Said So

There is a perception that docs who believe in integrative forms of medicine must be flawed in some manner, that they’ve been taken hostage by “conversion phenomenon.” And because William T. Jarvis, Ph.D. said so, it must be true. What’s worse; this misinformed article is being waved in the air as the great defender to those who decry the evils of alternative medicine. These medical professionals have suffered nervous breakdowns, have low self-esteem, are paranoid, going through a divorce, or are in the midst of a mid-life crisis. I find this every bit as comical as I do pathetic. Why, for the love of all that’s sacred, would anyone refer to a ten-year-old article where the most recent references are from 1987? This is supposed to be compelling? I’ve heard those very same reasons as to why democrats exist. The article is pure bunk.

When I think back to 1998, I remember the medical world laughing hysterically at biofeedback and guided imagery as something the Birkenstock and tie-dye-wearing community would embrace. Certainly not respected doctors. Flash forward to 2008. Now we’re hearing that biofeedback, hypnotherapy, and guided imagery are not only acceptable, but they’re no longer “alternative medicine.” Huh? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled at the acceptance of these modalities. What surprised me is that they are now being called mainstream. As defined by NIH:


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy and allied health professionals, such as registered nurses and physical therapists, practice. Alternative medicine means treatments that you use instead of standard ones. Complementary medicine means nonstandard treatments that you use along with standard ones.
Obviously many things have changed in the ten years since Dr. Jarvis penned his fantasy. Not unexpected because medicine changes at an alarming rate, as does professional opinion. But I’d like to know if this transformation from alternative/complementary to standard care happens by agreement. If so, who is the governing body? How many make a quorum? What is the litmus test? How did they come to this agreement? Who votes?

Admittedly, I’m confused. On one hand, I have docs telling me about the dreaded “conversion phenomenon,” and that no sentient doctor would be so taken in by this lunacy. On the other hand, I see what was once “alternative” is now standard care, such as hypnotherapy, biofeedback, guided imagery. What’s worrisome is that there is a vocal community within medicine who don’t agree and there are a lot of darts being lobbed back and forth. This is fine if that’s what floats their boats. But you know what, this ultimately affects patient care. Where some docs may prescribe a drug, another may prescribe biofeedback. Who’s the winner of this scenario?

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